Protect Yourself: Get the facts on HPV
HPV is a cancer-causing virus that affects about one in four people in the United States. Because most people never develop noticeable symptoms, it often goes undetected and can be spread to others through intimate sexual contact. For some, it can lead to health problems such as genital warts and cancer. Vaccines, however, are available and recommended for all preteen boys and girls.
Protect yourself or a loved one by learning more about HPV and the HPV vaccine.
What is HPV?
HPV is short for human papillomavirus. It is a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause skin warts and HPV-related cancers. There are many types of the virus, with the most serious causing cervical or other cancers. Nearly 80 million people – including teens - are currently infected.
How do you get HPV?
HPV is spread by intimate skin-to-skin sexual contact. Almost all sexually active individuals will contract at least one type of HPV at some point in their life. A person can get the virus even if their partner shows no signs of having an HPV infection.
How can I avoid HPV?
Getting an HPV vaccination has been shown to protect against the virus, as well as prevent many types of related cancers. It is given in a series of three shots over several months. Doctors recommend that all children ages 11 or 12 years old get vaccinated.
Who can get HPV?
Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV. Every year about 14 million people become infected by the virus. Most people, however, will never know they have it. If you wait to become sexually active until marriage, you may still be exposed through your partner.
Can you get rid of HPV?
There is no cure for the virus, but most HPV infections go away on their own. If it doesn’t, it can lead to other health problems, particularly among those with weakened immune systems. It could take years, however, after a person gets HPV to develop a related cancer.
What cancers are caused by HPV?
High-risk HPV infections can cause cancer. The most common is cervical cancer. Every year, about 12,000 women are diagnosed with the disease and about 4,000 die from it. Others cancers associated with HPV include cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus and oropharynx (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).
Check out our PSAs on HPV and prevention
See more of our HPV PSAs on the My Body My Future YouTube channel.